Two local high school seniors were awarded full-ride scholarships to the Indiana college of their choice after being selected as 2018 Bartholomew County Lilly Endowment scholars.
Columbus East High School senior Madelyn Rhodes and Hauser Junior-Senior High School senior Grace Hasler will receive full tuition for four years at an Indiana college and an annual stipend of $900 for books and equipment.
This year, 86 students applied for the coveted scholarships, with 10 finalists being selected for an interview, said Amy Laker, scholarship manager with the Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
Rhodes was in a government class Thursday when she was called to the counselor’s office on the pretense to discuss concerns by the Columbus East Student Assembly about a location for a planned formal dance. However, she was led into a room with counselors and her mother Michelle Templin, resulting in some confusion, she said.
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Rhodes was greeted by members of the Lilly scholar selection committee to deliver the news about the scholarship.
“I was absolutely speechless, it was so surreal,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes, who plans to study biology at IUPUI before heading to medical school to eventually work in pediatrics, said the scholarship will be a big help. Rhodes serves as secretary of East’s student council. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Key Club and team captain of the East girls’ tennis team.
She also has been a fundraising committee leader of the Turning Point Dance Marathon, class representative of Health Occupations Students of America and is also a lifeguard and tennis instructor.
She said she worked 15-hour days at the Donner Center as a lifeguard over the summer attempting to save money for college.
“I’m just so grateful,” Rhodes said. “It was one of the best early Christmas presents and it probably will be for the rest of my life.”
The scholarship committee could see how determined Rhodes was, said Matthew Kirr, scholarship committee chairman. “She just impressed the heck out of us,” he said.
Hasler was called to the Hauser office during her resource period under the guise of a question about FFA.
When she saw Laker in the room, she knew what the meeting was really about. “It hit me like a bus, and I really couldn’t say anything,” Hasler said.
Hasler, the daughter of Michael and Dena Hasler, plans to attend Purdue University next fall to study agricultural sales and marketing/agricultural education. She hopes to eventually work in sales in the agricultural field.
Hasler is involved in the National High School Rodeo Association, FFA, varsity captain of the Hauser track and basketball teams, class representative of a group known as Students Against Destructive Decisions and student council treasurer.
She was selected as a Coca-Cola scholarship finalist and had been applying for other scholarships, she said.
“This scholarship has opened up so many doors, and I’m so excited what the future holds,” Hasler said.
Rhodes also had a message for the selection committee and said she hopes she will be able to help them someday.
“Thank you for changing my life,” she said. “I hope I’ll be able to give to them as much as they’ve given to me.”
The Lilly Endowment community scholarship program began in 1998 and pays four years of tuition to any Indiana college or university, as well as a $900 stipend for required books and equipment.
Scholarship applicants are evaluated on academic performance, scholastic activities, community involvement and employment, leadership, financial need, responses to questions and a 450-word essay and two recommendations.
Finalists who do not receive the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship each receive a $1,000 award from the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
The finalists for the 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship included:
- Columbus East High School: David Phan, Natalie Glaid and Reagan Perkins
- Columbus North High School: Blake Shaffer
- Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech: Alyssa Knight
- Hauser Jr. Sr. High School: Sydney Schoen and Sarah Tedder
- Trinity Lutheran High School: Abigail Moses